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AudioQuest NightHawk: Do No Harm
In creating our first headphone, AudioQuest and NightHawk designerSkylar Gray had large, ambitious goals. We knew that NightHawk had to besomething special—not just another ordinary headphone—but, beyond that, westrove to liberate headphone design from decades of misinformation and neglect,most specifically characterized by the pervasive use of Mylar-based driverdiaphragms, the misapplication of well-intentioned but ultimately ineffective correctioncurves, and an array of other cost-saving measures that too often permeate theconsumer electronics industry.
With that in mind, Gray began from the ground and worked his way up,reevaluating and reimaging every aspect of headphone design. His mandate, asissued by AudioQuest founder William E. Low, was to follow his passion, to takeall the time necessary—while, of course, working efficiently—to design aproduct that meets AudioQuest’s (and his own) highest standards: unsurpassedlove, appreciation, and respect for the source signal.
NightHawk is the result of over two years of development—a product thatuses sustainable engineering, high-quality materials, and creative thinking tominimize waste and excess while maximizing performance and value. A productdesigned to build stronger emotional and intellectual connections with music,movies, and games. A product designed to successfully bridge the gap betweentwo of hi-fi’s most enduring and seemingly disparate pursuits: the pursuit ofunbridled pleasure and the pursuit of unprocessed truth. A product designed toinspire: music lovers and headphone enthusiasts, as well as thinkers, builders,engineers, and creators of all sorts. A product designed, like all AudioQuestproducts, to minimize distortion and to do no harm.
All-Natural Liquid Wood & Nontoxic Ultraviolet Coating
NightHawk’s earcups are made from all-natural Liquid Wood, which itselfis made from 100% renewable raw materials: lignin, natural fibers, resins, andwaxes, combined and treated in such a way that the resulting material can beinjection molded. The virtue and beauty of this revolutionary material shinesthrough a durable UV coating, the careful processing of which almost completelyeliminates emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous airpollutants (HAPs). Compared to traditional lacquers, varnishes, and polyfinishes, our coating is environmentally sustainable and poses no healthhazards for the technicians who apply it.
Sophisticated, Loudspeaker-inspired Design for Remarkable Resolution
Compared to the drive-units commonly used in most headphones,NightHawk’s 50mm dynamic driver much more closely resembles the high-qualitydrive-units found in today’s most sophisticated loudspeakers—not simply inappearance, but, more importantly, in terms of function and performance. Itemploys a carefully constructed bio-cellulose diaphragm, voice-coil former, andcompliant rubber surround, resulting in quality that is as easily seen as it isheard. Designed for exceedingly low distortion and high excursion with truepistonic motion, NightHawk’s driver contributes significantly to the headphones’well-controlled bass, rich midrange, and naturally extended highs. Itscombination of effortless clarity and outstanding representation of spaceproduces meaningful, emotionally compelling listening experiences. More thanmerely capable of providing short-term pleasure, NightHawk is designed todeliver satisfaction that endures.
An Immersive, Semi-Open Headphone
The open-back design of NightHawk’s speaker enclosures—itsearcups—enables an expanded, three-dimensional soundstage withnatural dynamics and smooth, coherent performance that extends into thelowest and highest octaves.
As with any open-back headphone, the open area had to be protected by agrille to prevent damage to the headphone’s precision-made internal parts.Traditionally, this has almost always been accomplished with perforatedmetal/plastic, wire cloth, or some other effectively two-dimensional material.While more or less successful at protecting the headphone’s internal parts,these materials also tend to compromise the headphone’s performance,reflecting sound back toward the driver, creating standing waves and resonantcolorations.
But what if this grille could be three-dimensional and promote arandom scattering of sound—diffusion—to successfully prevent those destructivestanding waves?
Patent-Pending Suspension System
Sophisticated ergonomic elements in a headphone design removeunnecessary boundaries—acoustic, physical, and psychological—between thelistener and his or her emotional involvement with the music. NightHawk’spatent-pending suspension system takes a cue from shock-mounted microphones,employing elastomer bands (four per side, symmetrically located around thesound-diffusing grilles) to join NightHawk’s headband with its earcups. Thiselegant design allows the earcups to move freely, accommodating heads of nearlyany shape or size, while effectively decoupling the earcups to counteractintrusive mechanical crosstalk—which, for a lot of listeners, can be a realdeal-breaker of a distortion. Boo to that noise. Yay to NightHawk.
Inspired by Loudspeaker Design, Honoring the Headphone Experience
Many of NightHawk’s design elements are successfully implemented intoday’s most innovative loudspeakers, but have never been used in headphones.That said, we aren’t interested in recreating the experience of listening toloudspeakers in a room, but we areextremely passionate about honoring thesingularly intimate, potentially transcendentheadphone-listening experience.High-end headphones should allow the listener to become absolutely consumed bythe experience. Compared to the sound of loudspeakers in a typical room,headphones can provide a dramatically lower noise floor resulting inunprecedented detail and clarity, significantly lower distortion, and imagingmarked by exceptionally clear and present ambience cues. The result is alistening experience that is emotionally compelling andseriously immersive.While NightHawk is made for all those music lovers who grew up listening toheadphones, we hope that it will also appeal to traditional loudspeakerenthusiasts who crave even deeper immersion in their music.
Impedance: 25 ohms
Power Handling: 1.5W
Driver: 50mm Dynamic | Biocellulose Diaphragm | 1.2T Split-Gap Motor
Length: 8’ (2.4m)
Conductors: Solid Perfect-Surface Copper+ (PSC+)
Geometry: Symmetric Star-Quad
NDS: Noise-Dissipation System
Terminations: 3.5mm Stereo Dual 2.5mm Mono | Direct-SilverPlated Copper